My answer - Civilisation?..no – Humanity?..probably yes
Basically the question needs re-phrasing. As it is, the answer has to be NO. Humans have been living in civilised societies for thousands of years generally without practicing euthanasia. So unless we are now going to reclassify the term ‘civilisation’ euthanasia isn’t and has never been fundamental to it.
However, if the question was “Is Euthanasia Fundamental To Humanity” I would have a different answer.
If a pet is terminally ill and suffering from its illness most owners would have it put to sleep. It is considered the ‘humane’ thing to do. We take the word humane from ‘human’ and yet we do not apply it to humans. If a human is terminally ill and suffering greatly they have to endure their plight until they eventually die. Can this really be right?
I think the main reason that euthanasia against the law in this country and many others has its roots in religion. It is against our Christian beliefs either to take our own lives or the life of another. Common law was based on the commandments and until about the 1960’s it was illegal to attempt to commit suicide in this country. Things are changing slowly and terminally ill people are often allowed to die in certain circumstances but this still isn’t euthanasia and still allows extended suffering.
In some cases I believe people should be allowed to be euthanized. Were a terminal illness or condition is causing so much suffering the person has no will to go on living they should have the right to choose. However, I feel strongly that no person, whether doctor, nurse or other carer, should be forced to administer any lethal treatment to that person if it is against their beliefs. Any such decision should also be authorised by an independent judge to avoid playing into the hands of people like Harold Shipman.
I have watched 2 close members of my family die from cancer. The last couple of weeks of their suffering is imprinted on me. I cannot say if they would have chosen euthanasia if it had been offered, I can only guess but I can say that what I witness was not humane.